Conflict Resolution: the walk from no to yes

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Conflict Resolution
Tags: , ,



  • 15000 tribes on the planet, family reunions, conflicts, how do we deal with our differences?
  • secret to peace: us – we act as a surrounding community around any conflict
  • when tempers rise, hide your weapons and sit down to talk  – cooling off period
  • this system: 3rd side – always! it’s us – the allies, family members, etc… remind them what’s at stake
  • involved conflict members easily loose perspective
  • when angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret
  • go to the balcony, a place of perspective, the 3rd side
  • role of the 3rd side: help us go to the balcony – before you react, think twice, go to the balcony, a breather before you retaliate
  • who do we worry about certain conflicts and not others? because of the story,  we feel personally involved
  • stories matter – we use to transmit knowledge, to give meaning to our lives
  • Abraham: symbolic 3rd side (respect, hospitality), a living presence
  • what is terrorism: taking a basic stranger and then treating them as an enemy who you want to murder in order to create fear
  • live the story, go for a walk on the 3rd side – walking has a real power, side by side, shoulder to shoulder


  • On Ury’s diagram of the sides of conflict, the “third side” encircles both the other two sides. Why is this? How does this relationship contribute to the success of the “third side” in conflict resolution?

A cliche ? Maybe not. I guess the idea of having a third party has been around but the push and drive to involve outsiders as third party mediators but the importance of this message is to take a breather and actually take the first step towards engagement and that 3rd side.

  • Ury says “the role of the third side is to help the parties go to the balcony.” What does this mean to you? Can you think of a real-life example where you saw this idea in action?

My 2 sisters where once arguing over something and they reached a deadlock. I listened for hours at them getting at each other with accusations and arguments and I thought maybe I could intervene. I walked over to one of them, asked her to stand up and held her hand and we both walked to my other sister’s side – trivial as it may sound, that actually made them rationalize and be less emotional.

  • Ury says “stories matter.” How do you think that stories can affect conflict, both positively and negatively? Why?

it’s like Ury said, we identity with certain characters in the story and take sides, we feel emotionally charged when there is a story that could relate to us in any remote form or shape.

  • In his talk, Ury talks about the difference between face-to-face confrontation and shoulder-to-shoulder communication. How does physical positioning impact the emotional/communicative dynamics of relationships?

pls refer to the second bullet. Also, remember 80% of communication is conveyed through body language.

  • How can you go “from hostility to hospitality” in regard to conflicts in your own life?

Take a breather, think positively, count to 10 before responding, acknowledge the ether’s feelings and perspective.

  • How does the Abrahamic walk create change within communities? What are other symbolic gestures that can positively impact relations?

It could trigger a drive or community of followers that symbolically could make a difference but for me the idea as a technique is more important than the walk itself.


The simplistic approach of introducing a third party or metaphorically taking a walk on the balcony – I mean this has been around for quite a while and I wonder if any conflict is actually resolved or resolved faster simply by the introduction of a third party or a walk on the balcony so to speak.

With all due respect to the author and to his theory, But is Ury trying to convince us that he is able to solve conflicts by simply introducing a third party or walk on the balcony and by referring to Abraham as the common denominator for a deep-rooted, Centuries old, geopolitical, regional, international, high value $$, high impact, and resource-packed region conflict. I mean let’s be realistic! How about moving from the theoretical realm and get real just for a while. The more we start taking concrete real-life examples the flatter the learning curve gets. I know we have to start at a 30000 feet view but still…

I think we should choose a real case conflict and evaluate the steps taken by parties 1, 2 & 3 and asses their impact.

Take a step back and think along the lines of: Who introduces this third party? What are its objectives? motives? What legitimacy does it bring to the table? Is it credible? Is it completely neutral with no interests what so ever? No direct or indirect benefits? No religious, cultural, or economic points to gain?

I can name tens of conflicts where the third party does nothing but complicate things and introduce new stakeholders ($) to an already messy tangled web of emotions, needs, perceptions and false hope…  OR  actually solves the conflict but at what and who’s expense???  Something or someone has to give…

My 2cents worth…

Joe Zaarour, P2PU


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